CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James saved his best for last -- twice.
James made a winning shot in the final seconds for the first
time in his career, hitting a jumper with 0.9 seconds left in
overtime of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 120-118 victory over Charlotte
on Wednesday night. He finished with 37 points and his ninth career
"Game, set, match, I knew it was over," Cavaliers guard Damon
Jones said of the final play.
It came after James, who also had 12 assists and 11 rebounds,
made a crisp pass that led to a game-tying 3-pointer by Flip Murray
with 0.4 to play in regulation.
Rookie Raymond Felton scored 30 points to lead six players in
double figures for Charlotte, which was without leading scorer
Gerald Wallace and starting point guard Brevin Knight. Felton added
10 assists, seven rebounds, five steals and scored the Bobcats'
final 10 points.
He couldn't match James, who got the ball at the top of the key
with the crowd roaring. He dribbled into a rhythm before firing a
21-footer that rattled the rim and went in as his teammates mobbed
"It felt good," said James, adding that he pays no attention
to critics who claim he meekly passes instead of boldly shooting
with the game on the line.
"I never let it affect me," said the All-Star game MVP, who is
averaging 30.8 points. "My teammates know I can make great shots
and that was a prime example of it."
If not for James' pinpoint pass at the end of regulation,
however, Cleveland would have lost.
Trapped by the Bobcats' swarming defense near midcourt, James
found Murray alone in the far corner for a 104-all tie.
"If my teammates are open, I'm going to get them the ball,"
James said. "Flip was wide open."
James' final two assists set up Jones and Murray for 3-pointers
in overtime. A fast-break slam by James with 1:30 left put
Cleveland ahead 116-111.
But Felton hit a 3 from the corner and seconds later added two
free throws for yet another tie.
"I had it going," Felton said, "but LeBron is one of a
James, who went 16-for-23 from the line, followed with two free
throws for a 118-116 lead. Felton then spun his way to the hoop to
tie it for the 16th and final time at 118 with 20 seconds left.
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said James called his own number for
"I wanted LeBron to drive and have a guy to kick the ball to,"
Brown said of the play he originally designed during a timeout.
"On his way out, LeBron told me he would make the shot and wasn't
going to pass it.
"I'll live with him taking the shot at the end of every single
Cleveland (39-29) has won three straight at home after a
three-game road losing streak and is three wins shy of last
season's total with 14 to play.
The Cavaliers lead Washington by four games in the battle for
the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and play three of their
next four at home, where they are 25-10. The top four clubs in each
conference get home-court advantage in the first round.
James improved to 6-0 over the second-year the Bobcats, but it
wasn't easy. Charlotte battled back from a 13-point deficit after
being outscored 13-2 at the foul line in the first half.
"We listened to the official," coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.
"He said the Cavs were getting fouls because they were going to
the basket, so we attacked and were rewarded for it."
Charlotte outscored the Cavaliers from the line 21-12 after
Drew Gooden and Murray scored 19 points apiece for Cleveland,
which is 9-0 when James gets a triple-double.
When Bobcats G Kevin Burleson made a third-quarter layup,
it ended a streak of 33 straight missed field goals by the rookie
in 19 games since Jan. 13. ... Bobcats rookie G Alan Anderson had
season highs of 17 points and six rebounds. ... Cavs G Larry
Hughes, who had finger surgery Feb. 14, is "progressing fine,"
according to Brown. Hughes remains on a timetable of 8-10 weeks to
return, which could enable him to play in the playoffs. ... The
Bobcats are 6-29 and have lost 18 of their last 20 on the road. ...
Charlotte used its 24th different starting lineup. ... Wallace, who
had 27 points Tuesday night, sat out with a sore left calf. Knight
missed his second straight game with a groin strain.<
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